'Bikini baristas' accused of serving more than just coffee

EVERETT, Wash. -- Three so-called "bikini baristas", including a 16-year-old girl, were arrested Wednesday in Everett for allegedly violating the city's adult cabaret law.

The arrests came at the end of a two-month long investigation into a pair of Grab-N-Go coffee stands, according to police.

"Citizens complained that these locations served more than just coffee," Lt. James Duffy of the Criminal Intelligence Unit said in a Wednesday news release.

Duffy said the investigation uncovered what he called "exhibition and exposure which is outside the confines of the law."

Police used surveillance cameras to capture the baristas allegedly giving customers "shows" for money without actually serving any coffee.

Everett police officer Aaron Snell said Grab-N-Go customers know they're going to see scantily-clad baristas. He said their clothes -- or lack thereof -- were not the problem, but their actions went too far.

"They were uncovering themselves and exposing themselves, which is completely different than the outfits they were wearing," he said. "It's behavior driven as opposed to what they were wearing."

A barista who was not arrested believes the police are targeting bikini barista stands.

"The cops are looking to try and shut down a lot of bikini stands because stigma behind them," said barista Kassi Carlson.

In 2010, five Grab-N-Go baristas were charged with prostitution and violating the city's adult entertainment ordinance following a two-month undercover investigation.

Those women, ages 18 to 24, were accused of groping and other sexual acts, including exposing their breasts and privates and licking whipped cream off of each other in exchange for money.

The owner of the coffee stands, Bill Wheeler, said he is only aware of two of his employees being arrested Wednesday.

"I got a phone call saying the cops were here and they were going to detain them," he said.

He said a 22-year-old and a 17-year-old were arrested. Police listed the ages of the arrested women as 29, 21, and 16. The three were later released from custody with charges referred to the Everett city prosecutors for review.

Despite the company's shaky history with the law, Wheeler insists everything at his coffee stands in on the up-and-up.

"I make it very clear that my business isn't what they may suspect it to be," he said. "Regardless of what they heard in the past in the media I have a zero-tolerance-policy for any of this conduct."
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